Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A day for one's hobby

How rare it can be, to spend an entire day enjoying one's hobby.

This last Saturday, I did a booth at a local craft fair. I can not avoid the anticipation of sales, when I price and package any item I plan to put in the booth. However, I knew ahead that this craft fair, at a local high school was really not the venue for handspun yarns. I had a few other items too, mostly wreaths, and flower arrangements and a few Christmas ornaments. But the bulk of the items were handspun yarns, in wool or alpaca or angora.

And my spinning wheel, not for sale of course, but as usual a focal point to the booth. I sit and spin, people pass by and either stand and watch, or approach and ask questions. I explain often just how the wheel is making the yarn (no it technically is not thread) or that I am spinning and not weaving, (or as one lady told her child, sewing). I try to give them the amazement I still feel, that all fabrics made before the machinery age started in just this fashion. All fabrics, including the viking sails!

So I spun all day. I filled two bobbins of lace weight singles on my Ashford lace flyer with a soft wool purchased as mill end batts from Jaggerspun yarns. I am not sure what breed of wool they use, but it is merino soft, yet has very little of the merino bounce that I hate. I was very happy with the yarn that it produced. It is slightly off white, and I probably will dye the yarn after I have plied it. I hope to make a lace shawl with the yarn.

Which brings me back to all the yarn I tried to sell. Most of it, I have no plans for whatsoever. One bag I packaged up reluctantly, I love the color of the yarn. Lucky me that it did not sell! Now I really do need to make something from it.

The problem I run into is that I tend to buy rovings in one pound lots. And I find I can at the most, make anywhere from 300 to 650 yards of 2 ply yarn from that pound, depending on how thick I spin it. Some of the yarns I had for sale are very bulky. That's what knitters love right now, a soft bulky, interestingly textured yarn to turn into a scarf over a weekend. But the yardage on the bulky yarns are barely 200 yards, enough
for a scarf but not much else. Even spinning finer and getting the 650 yards is not really enough for any adult knitted project. A shawl needs at least a 1000 yards, and a sweater 2000 yards. It becomes clear why I have not used these yarns myself.

I have one bag of yarn stored away that I hope to use to knit me a sweater. The wool was purchased raw, I washed the fiber and then spun the yarn. I have not checked the specific amount of yarn I have, however, I spun the entire fleece, probably 3.5 pound of usuable fiber. I still may not have enough for a sweater! It's no wonder knitters run to Wallmart to buy six of the one pound balls of acrylic to knit anything.

Still, I love knitting with handspun yarn. It has a feel to it while knitting that I just do not feel from any commercial yarn. The fact that I come up with smaller amounts only challenges me to find patterns adaptable to mulitple colors.

And I will never stop spinning, even if I never use the yarn. I realized after spending the whole day at the spinning wheel, just how much I had missed it. I had not spun anything since about April, and during the winter I often spin a couple of ounces a day. When I don't do that, I miss the tactile experience of the fiber in my hands, I miss the visual experience of the colors developing in the yarn, and most of all I miss the relaxing mediative state of the whole spinning process. Here's to an early new years resolution, let there be some spinning in my life, if not everyday, then often.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wedding flower pictures

As any of my readers may or may not know, my daughter just got married this last Sunday. I had the fun of doing the floral decorations from silk flowers and finally got these pictures to upload. These are not in any special order, but I am not going to mess with trying to do them over.

First, the cake table, which turned out beautiful itself for all the wonderful desserts present. I did the garland at the edge from a purchased garland to which I added all sorts of faux fruit and flowers:

Here is the brides table, which is also in fairness the grooms, maid of honor and best man's table too. On it are a crystal basket of fresh sunflowers, arranged that morning from flowers my daughter got at her food co op several days earlier. The chain of cranes was made by my daughter.

Throughout any of the decorations be sure to note the thousand and one orgami cranes folded by my daughter and her internet friends for good luck. They were made of very colorful paper, and looked like little flowers all over the tables, windows, even the cakes. Here's a photo of how the tables were set up for the reception.

This photo was taken at my house. It is a very large vase of silk flowers that we set on an area of the grand staircase where my daughter was married. All of the flower arrangements are done in fall colors, and with sunflowers, since that particular flower was special to the bride and groom.

The area for the reception had six large windows with wide window seats. To decorate that area, I did four silk arrangements in brass planters. You can see one of them in the window in the picture above of the table.

Again, this picture was taken at my house, but I used these two baskets to sit on the grand stairway. The stairway was magnificent with all of it's woodwork, but this little splash of color made it special for the ceremony.

Finally, not floral, but sewn, is the suit I made to wear to the wedding. The fabric is a brushed suede, with small embroidered roses on it. The jacket is lined and I was very lucky to find a rayon fabric the exact color of the roses for the blouse under the jacket. I found it very satisfying to be sewing again, after about two years of just doing embroidery with my machine. I hope it keeps me inspired to continue sewing, I have picked out more patterns I would like to do in the near future.

I have joked that I may have found a second career, arranging silk flowers. I just know that I saved this project of the many, many things to do for the wedding until last, because I knew it would be the most enjoyable.